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Archive for May, 2012

Jealousy seems to be an extremely common affliction. Every time I explain that it is a feeling I am generally unfamiliar with, people (especially those who do not know me well), are struck with surprise. It is therefore quite hard to write this piece, as it is always difficult to express feelings you have not felt, and certainly never felt with any level of intensity to do justice to a particular emotion. Such is my brush with jealousy, I simply do not tend to get jealous. Maybe, it is because I am not at heart a possessive person, I feel love is an emotion bountiful enough to go round and the more it is shared, the more it expands. I am also not attracted by the theories of all-consuming love that makes you want to own a person (or even worse, an object), to the exclusion of all others. The supreme form of all-encompassing love must be that for God, it can of course also be for your parents, family, partners, children and others, but all those latter relations are transitory and will end with the span of our limited lives. The love for God, in my opinion, transcends those, but that is somewhat beyond the scope of today’s post.

Coming back to envy, the majority of people I know, seem to treat it as an inevitable consequence of loving. If you love intensely, you get attached, and this then almost automatically translates into making you feel like you are entitled to undivided attention from the object of your affections. This is all supplemented by the romantic notions, much flaunted as demonstrative of epic love, where we believe that being jealous or possessive, especially in a romantic context, is almost necessary to demonstrate depth of feeling for your loved one. After Mills and Boons have been running this formula with huge success over the years. Most of us will sigh in delight at a “hero” getting insanely jealous over his love interest. Jealousy has been almost glamorised as a prerequisite to an expression of deep love. On the other extreme, jealousy amongst friends, siblings, colleagues and even that of parents for their children, are all vilified and people feeling such emotions allegorised as almost demonic or at the very least, guilty of deep moral failing.

Either way, jealousy is a negative emotion and identifying it and trying to eliminate it can have some real immediate benefit for your emotional and mental well-being. It is really important to recognise that jealousy has to be one of those totally wasteful and self-defeating feelings one can experience, it destroys the very relationship you are anxious to preserve. What gives birth to jealousy? Probably too wide a consideration is required to be done justice to here, but in a generalised context, it seems to me to originate from our own insecurities. If we were confident of ourself, our feelings and their reciprocity, it is difficult to see how the envy can take root. If only we were able to work through that often almost automatic rush of felt shortcoming that births its progeny, jealousy, we would realise that the very person we feel jealous of is possibly also suffering similar feelings, if not for us, for someone else. For, as we are generally quick and able to perceive our own inadequacies, others are also affected, albeit their insecurities may stem from another area.

Further, we then enter the realm where that envy blinds us and makes us suspicious and unhappy in every which way. We begin to see our spouse  simply admiring someone as concrete evidence of infidelity and of-course once trust erodes, it brings down the whole foundation of your relationship. The same can be true of any tie, I have only exemplified the most common and obvious one that springs to mind. Of course we must view this in perspective, not every jealous or insecure pang we have, will have disastrous consequences, it is fairly easy and also very understandable to succumb to such concerns as affect most of us on various levels. It is, however, the form of envy or jealousy that can easily result in genuine spite, that we must guard against. Its onset can be subtle, but its grip is oft unshakeable. Nowhere is this more dramatically emphasised than in Othello. Shakespeare had the right of it of-course. That gradual poison spreading through the psyche, causing the unbearable angst, and finally the overwhelming and utter destruction, not just of the person you love above all else, but of yourself too, is so vividly portrayed, it always frightens me with its implications.

How can one prevent feeling jealous? I am afraid I cannot adduce a ready answer to it. All I can say is, recognising the futility of your illness (for jealousy more often than not manifests itself as an actual illness), may make it easier to deal with it. There is no pill to swallow that will make it better, it must be something that needs to be identified and then rooted out. You could do this by being self-analytical and examining the root of what is causing you to react in that manner. Most complexes are of course girded from the loins of a lack of something, real or perceived. For example, feeling ill will towards someone your partner praises as beautiful is usually caused by an insecurity of your own appearance. As I said above, remember that whilst you are fighting these emotions towards someone, they may be looking at you (or could be) and feeling equally inferior. You are bound to have some quality or gift someone else may be/ can envy so try to pierce the veil and examine all the things you have to offer and what life has gifted you. Further, understand that no matter how much you may dislike someone’s attributes, whatever they may be, your envy will not yield them to you. If you want to attain something you covet in others, try to achieve it through your own honest efforts. Why not be radical and try to take pleasure in someone’s success or achievements, you will inadvertently be sharing it and as far-fetched as that sounds, such thinking really works.

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The thought behind this piece has been fermenting in my mind for a while, but it has been given structure and form following a recent “comment exchange” with my dear friend and co-blogger, Tulika. Tulika- this one is for you, and whilst it will not come up to the high standard you set through your blog, I hope you enjoy some of the thoughts within it.

 The well known poem of “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson has always been my favourite. Its very simplicity is amazing and no matter how many times I read it, it offers sound counsel in troubled times and strength when it is most needed. I am sure all know it – the lovely piece that describes the writer’s key life moments as sets of corresponding footsteps in the sand, mostly walking along with God. There are some points where there are two sets, hers and God’s, and then some points when there is only one set. It is these that the poet believes are her own steps. All the times that the steps are a singular set, she recalls are the low moments for her. As we are all won’t to do, she questions her Lord about why he abandoned her at those times. In it’s sublime climax she (and through her, we) are corrected by the ultimate sustainer, who explains that those prints at those times are His, as on each of those occasions, he was carrying her!

So it is with most of us. We are so quick to blame God for everything that goes “wrong” for us. God is an easy punching bag, we cannot physically see Him/Her, and even more importantly, He or She does not lash back at us in response. Oh, spare me those cautionary tales about a vengeful God who wreaks havoc on sinners. I have never subscribed to that theory and if you do, you may want to read no more of this piece. God is loving and forgiving, He loves us all, whether we acknowledge him or not and his capacity to love and forgive is, just like Him, unfettered and unlimited (I do not believe God is gender specific or even form-specific but for ease of reference, I shall continue to refer in the masculine).

Many will argue about the times that they have been afflicted with pain or tragedy in their lives. There rests the foundation for the belief that they were/ are punished for whatever wrong they may committed, whether comitted knowingly or not and regardless of whether they even acknowledge that to be an act/ acts to be deserving of retribution. I suggest the answer to that lies in the inexorable nature of your own actions, every action after all has a reaction. Oh, again, let me clarify – I do not believe that people always “deserve” what happens to them, no, that is too crude. Instead, I feel that there is a fine balance, constantly fluctuating and regulating itself, which combines a perfect symmetry of fate and action. It is too simplistic to believe that God sits there in literal judgement on each action and strikes down those who are guilty of some form of significant failing. Yes, I personally believe that there is a higher power who looks over us at all times, call that power what you will. The engineering of this incredible process is never visible unless you are willing to really see, not just look, and also agreeable to opening yourself up to faith and belief, unconstrained by requiring a physical manifestation, or “rational” explanation of each event or incident.

I do believe in fate, I feel that the vein of fate runs through all our paltry existence. I call it paltry as what is our life but a nano-second in the macrocosm of the universe. Therefore, whatever ills befall you, they are your lot to bear and it is how you face them that defines you as as a person. What I also firmly grasp on to, is that no matter how severe your suffering, God watches out for His own and if you have faith, it will see you through, in one way or other. I do not imply that your belief negates the suffering, no, the suffering is an essential component of almost all human existence, but that agony is made bearable and eventually relieved by a surrender to the supremacy of will beyond our comprehension. This is that moment when you understand that whilst you thought you were walking alone and bereft, you were infact being sustained by the creator, who never leaves you to suffer alone if you place your faith in Him.

It is this thought and this faith that always end up bringing me personal salvation, no matter how dire my straits are. This is no meaningless preaching without practice, it is my own experiences after I have crossed that metaphorical sandy stretch, which at the time felt worse than the most arid desert. I clung to my faith and He did carry me, safely delivering me to the “other” side and to sanity and hope and most importantly, to renewed happiness.

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